Dejan Kovacevic poses the question in his first column for the Tribune-Review, and I agree with him that Neal Huntington should, in fact, be extended. But where Kovacevic sees Huntington getting better at his job, I mostly just see him as the same guy he's always been.â†µ
Kovacevic points out, for example, that some of Huntington's trades, such as the one that brought back Charlie Morton, Jeff Locke and Gorkys Hernandez for Nate McLouth, have looked better recently than they used to. Some of that has to do with Morton, of course, and the work he has been doing with Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage, but some of it is also simply that Huntington has acquired lots of young players in trades, and it was inevitable that it would take a couple years before the Pirates would begin to figure out what they had.â†µ
Kovacevic also argues that where Huntington's cheap acquisitions once played like cheap players, he's now getting guys like Kevin Correia, Chris Resop and Xavier Paul. Except Resop and Paul haven't really done much yet (and Paul isn't really likely to), and Huntington also acquired cheap and modestly productive players like Garrett Jones and Evan Meek early in his tenure.â†µ
Part of me thinks Kovacevic's argument might be a slight overreaction to a couple months of better-than-expected to play. But I agree with his conclusion: Huntington deserves to be extended. His approach in the draft has been top-notch, and while the results of his trades have been uneven, they have mostly been aimed at rebuilding the Pirates. That was the right strategy, even though it was unpopular, and if the Bucs aren't already seeing the fruits of that strategy at the major-league level, they hopefully will soon.